Adapting to renewable energy needs a workforce with the skills to make the change, but the current green skills gap around the country shows an urgent need for training. Read how Dundee City Council is addressing this through greater investment and innovation in renewable energy systems, and by providing training. Supporting the development of renewable energy and providing skills training for local workers forms Action 33 of the 50-point Climate Action Plan for Councils.

23 May 2022

How is Action 33 tackling the climate crisis?

Local efforts to cut carbon will fail without a workforce with the skills to deliver the solutions. Job creation in renewable energy will far outweigh job losses in the fossil fuel sector but the current skills gap shows an urgent need for training.

Dundee City Council is addressing this through greater investment and innovation in renewable energy systems and ensuring skills are available by providing training.

Dundee’s strategic focus in achieving a low carbon future is to create long term, sustainable jobs in the region, tackle fuel poverty, and support and encourage the transition to low carbon energy and transport solutions. As part of this, Dundee City Council is supporting renewable energy generation by encouraging multiple new developments, such as offshore wind projects and attracting investment in low carbon and sustainable innovation companies to the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc. Linked to this, the council's backing for green skills training is helping to attract investment in renewables as well as providing opportunities for local people.

The local authority is driving a collaborative approach, working with a range of agencies including the Scottish Government, businesses, universities and colleges to create new opportunities for the city.

Encouraging renewables business development

Invest Dundee is the brand which highlights the strengths of Dundee for investment in general as well as support for renewable energy developments. Key attractors include:

  • £1 billion waterfront project with investment in public realm, V&A Dundee, office- and mixed-use developments and the development of Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc.

  • Opportunities at Dundee Port and other key industrial sites across the city are also helping to attract offshore wind as well as low carbon energy and sustainable transport companies, projects and services to the city.

  • The council is also a partner and steering group member in Forth & Tay Offshore which provides a regional collaboration to attract business investment, supply chain and skills development.

Skills training

The authority sits on the steering group for the Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Skills Council. This fosters new partnerships across the region’s educational institutions, training providers, project developers in offshore wind and government agencies aimed at developing and creating a skilled workforce for the sustainability sector.

The council is also encouraging investment by boosting local training opportunities, through key partnerships with stakeholders such as Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc’s Skills Academy, Scottish Government agencies, Skills Development Scotland and local educational establishments. It’s played an active role in the creation of Energy Training East, an alliance of Tayside’s universities and colleges providing skills training ranging from apprenticeships and technical courses to graduate and post-graduate teaching and research. Bringing this alliance together enables training to be offered across a full range of relevant engineering skills as well as other skills such as project management.

What impact has the project had?

Several developments indicate the early success of the strategy:

  1. Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc Skills Academy (MSIP) is a collaboration between Michelin, Dundee City Council, Dundee and Angus College and Scottish Enterprise to create a skills training centre at the former tyre manufacturing site. The skills academy provides dedicated skills training to current and future employees of companies located at MSIP and across the sector, through a comprehensive range of training focused on the skills needs of companies. The curriculum and delivery style of the MSIP Skills Academy builds on the strong legacy of Dundee and Michelin, inspiring new generations of engineers, technicians and operators to design and manufacture for the sustainable mobility and decarbonisation sectors (such as low carbon transport and wind turbines).

  2. The skills aspect of the project is still in development. However, the developments at MSIP have already seen over 123 jobs created and the aim is to ultimately create new jobs that will compensate for the 800 jobs that were lost when the tyre factory closed.

  3. Forth Ports Ltd has invested over £40 million to improve their facilities at the Port of Dundee to ensure they are fit for purpose and capable of meeting the demanding requirements of both existing and emerging markets.

  4. Over 2.5GW of offshore wind farm projects have now been given consent. These projects are capitalising on training provided by the Energy Skills Partnership, which the council is a partner of, that builds a network of Scotland’s further education providers to create a local and regional trained workforce to support renewable energy growth. Projects here include NnG Offshore, Sea Green and Inch Cape Offshore. A skilled and ready workforce is critical to support and sustain these projects.

What made this work?

The fundamental reason for Dundee’s success is the prioritisation of collaborative partnerships. The council has worked in partnership across the board, supporting the development of training programmes with local colleges and universities, and working with multiple renewables groups as part of a cluster approach designed to attract more businesses to the area. Companies and renewables organisations provide the direct input on the type of skills needed and local colleges and universities ensure that these skills can be provided.

The development of renewable energy projects and low-carbon skills training directly relates to the local authority's priorities. Dundee’s Climate Action Plan features a package of renewable energy actions that the council intends to progress, whilst supporting business growth and creating jobs in the offshore wind sector through the development of the regional cluster approach.

What resources were needed?

The council has a business development team with individual leads in different areas, including energy, and works closely with the council’s city development teams and the sustainability team to market Dundee’s capabilities as a hub for renewable developments.

Things to look out for

Council commitment

Political will is critical for a council to support sustainable energy transitions. Dundee City Council’s leader and management team have been proactive in developing new partnerships to drive investment in renewable energy.

It's also vital to communicate renewable energy and skills strategies clearly internally, allowing relevant staff across services to buy into the project and adopt a forward-looking vision for the area.

Land use

To attract investment from low-carbon industries, a strategic approach to land use is important. With only a finite amount of quayside space and the high cost of land in this space, it's essential to look at other sites in the city. It's important to create areas of development that can take advantage of terrain suitable for constructing manufacturing facilities, supply chain development and investment or where robust infrastructure for renewable energy already exists, such as local council-owned industrial parks.

Government policy

Dundee was able to demonstrate how it aligned with government climate strategies. The Scottish Government has outlined its ambition to become a renewable energy exporter, with offshore wind energy being a key driver for this.

Friends of the Earth's view

Dundee is showing how investment in green skills training is an essential element to increase UK renewable energy generation to meet the need for a clean and resilient energy supply.

All councils should be taking steps to boost green skills training including carrying out green skills audits and working with local education providers to develop and promote green skills training.

Government funding is also required to create thousands of new green apprenticeships, particularly for marginalised communities and areas.

Friends of the Earth is showcasing specific examples of good practice in tackling climate change, but that doesn’t mean we endorse everything a council is doing. 

This case study was produced by Ashden and Friends of the Earth.

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